This is the second in a series of policy briefs that analyze youth-related policy implications from the St. James Town Initiative’s Voices of Multicultural Youth report and sets out recommendations and options for action. This policy briefing focuses on one key area identified by St. James Town youth: access to community recreation services.
The briefing highlights the importance of accessible community recreation to the health of children and youth and the disproportionate negative health effects that will be experienced by youth in poorer and marginalized communities if municipal recreation supports are reduced or eliminated. In addition to the impacts on individual health, the reduction in municipal community recreation supports creates significant pressures on Toronto’s health services and an added burden on the economy in the future.
The Wellesley Institute recommends that before Toronto City Council makes decisions regarding the funding of community recreation services, that they direct city staff to undertake a Health Equity Impact Assessment to determine whether eliminating access to free adult, registered programs at Priority Centres has an inequitable and negative health impact on vulnerable populations — including youth — in the neighbourhoods that they serve and identify how to mitigate those risks.